Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday morning prohibiting biological males from competing in girls sports in his state. The bill was aptly timed as the governor signed the bill on June 1, the beginning of LGBT pride month.
“As a father of two daughters, I want my girls, and every girl in Florida, to compete on an even playing field for the opportunities available to young women in sports. Women have fought for decades to have equal opportunities in athletics, and we have to prevent those opportunities from being eroded as is happening in other states. It’s common sense,” Governor DeSantis said in a press release.
The governor signed the bill following a press conference at Trinity Christian Academy. In attendance was Selina Soule, a track and field athlete who lost numerous races in high school due to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s (CAIC) policy permitting biological males to compete against girls.
According to the press release from the Florida governor’s office, the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” (S.B. 1028), “specifies that an athletic team or sport that is designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex, based on the student’s biological sex listed on the student’s official birth certificate at the time of birth.”
In March, a similar bill in South Dakota failed after Governor Kristi Noem vetoed the legislation after the state legislature refused to amend the bill per her request. One of the changes Gov. Noem asked for was to remove collegiate athletics from the act so that only K-12 sports would be impacted.
The governor’s request came after the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) threated to pull tournaments and events from states with laws protecting girls sports.
The Florida bill protects not only high school and collegiate athletics, but intramural and club athletic teams as well.
The governor’s press release notes, “The bill applies the requirements to interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams or sports that are sponsored by a public secondary school, high school, public college, or university institution. The bill provides civil remedies for those who suffer harm by violations of the section of law.”
Governor DeSantis addressed the concern of potential boycotts from organizations and corporations in his press conference.
“When this was going on … some of these corporations get all spun up, some of these organizations say they’re not going to hold events if you do this. And just let me say very clearly, in Florida, we’re going to do what’s right. We’ll stand up to corporations. They are not going to dictate the policies in this state. We will stand up to groups like the NCAA who think that they should be able to dictate the policies in different states. Not here. Not ever,” he declared.
“We won’t be cowed … At the end of the day, if the price of providing opportunities that can last a lifetime for all the girls throughout the state of Florida, for ensuring fair competition for them, if the price of that is that we lose an event or two, you know, I would choose to protect our young girls every day of the week and twice on Sunday,” he added.
Not only is the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act common sense, but such legislation protecting girls sports is supported by the majority of Americans. The press release noted, “Multiple polls have stated more than 60 percent of Americans believe that biological males should not be participating in women’s sports.”
Gov. DeSantis joked in his press conference that Selina may now have to look at transferring to colleges in Florida. It’s a safe bet that many K-12 and collegiate female athletes will consider doing exactly that.
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Photo from TOM BRENNER/REUTERS